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Step 2 – Research

After establishing the importance of editorial planning in the previous post, the next crucial step in a successful content strategy is Research.

Research helps direct content direction and it is the second most important step in a content strategy.
Research undergirds your success, not only in science experiments but also in content direction. (Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com)

Effective research lays the foundation for compelling and informative content that resonates with your target audience. It enables you to gather valuable insights, identify trending topics, and ensure the accuracy & credibility of your messaging including where you’re going with it. That is why research is the second most important step in a content strategy.

Research Pointer – Identifying Relevant Topics & (hopefully) Trends

Data is key to a content strategy.
Time is what you need when you’re trying to unearth some data points to better tell your story. (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com)

To begin, it’s important to identify the most relevant topics in your industry niche and recognise what you will be offering your audience. Usually this relates to your expertise, the services you provide and/or the products you sell.

If you’re a bricklayer for example, the topics that are closest to you would revolve around the art of brick laying. This includes the techniques, the recommended raw materials, the equipment to use and the cost for undertaking a certain project.

On this one topic of bricklaying alone, it can easily churn out 5 different contents under each category ie. 5x techniques, 5x raw materials, 5x equipment, 5x cost. That’s a total of 20 altogether but that’s not all because from every piece of content, you turn it into either a video, an audio, a written text passage or all of the above.

While researching for information, it helps to also stay up-to-date with the latest news, industry updates, social media discussions and the general market trend surrounding your topic. This will help you understand the current conversations among your target audience and reveal to you what the general pulse of the market is like. This way, you won’t be blindsided by just your own viewpoints.

Other useful data points include emerging hot topics, pressing issues and popular keywords related to your industry. Unlike before, the latter has become somewhat of a mainstay in digital content production despite how undesirable it is to pen words just to align to them. Because truthfully, if one is to write for a living audience, the keywords required to raise analytics are just contradicting the rhythm and flow of the content.

Gathering Reliable Data & Statistics

Supporting your content with accurate data and statistics adds credibility and authority. Research reputable sources, industry reports, case studies, and academic publications to gather reliable information that supports your key messages. Ensure that you properly cite your sources to maintain transparency and build trust with your readers.

Data presented can be infographics, tables, charts and illustrations that help better tell a story.

A snapshot of how research complements content delivery.

As a general rule of thumb for written text, 1 to 2 tables or charts will suffice if the text is no more than 600 words. The page above adheres to that rule of thumb and you can get a better feel of it here.

Conducting Interviews to Seek Expert Opinions

Getting viewpoints from an expert.
“What’s your take?” is a good start. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com)

Seeking insights from industry experts and thought leaders is an excellent way to enhance your content’s value. Identify key individuals in your industry who possess extensive knowledge and experience. Reach out to them for interviews, quotes or even guest contributions. These expert opinions add depth and credibility to your content, making it more valuable to your audience than you can imagine.

In a way, this is a smart hack to leverage on the “Power of Association” although it is not something anyone can muster the courage to do right from the start. But as you go along and as your platform gather more traction and followers, it’ll give you the confidence to start communicating with the movers and shakers of the market.

Exploring Different Perspectives as Part of Research

Looking for diverse opinions.
Because everybody’s different. (Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com)

While still in research mode, do not hesitate to explore diverse perspectives and opinions. This helps you present a well-rounded view of the topic and encourages critical thinking among your audience.

Consider opposing viewpoints, alternative approaches, and different cultural or demographic perspectives as a value added service to your audience because if without your input, where else would they get a concerted view on the subject?

When done right, this approach will enrich your content and encourage engagement and become a talking point you probably never thought possible. Again, just to iterate, research is the second most important step in a content strategy and as such, it is worth every minute of looking into the data.

Engaging & Interacting with Your Target Audience

When you have an audience, interact.
When you have an audience, talk to them or engage them like you would a friend. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

Every time you embark on a marketing or communications project, you cannot but escape from your target audience. Ask not why you’re producing it alone but also ask, who will it be for so you know from the start if it should be professional, quirky, artsy, classical, loud or just downright amateurish.

If you can understand their needs, challenges and preferences, you’re half way there. The other part is to utilise surveys, polls and social media engagement as necessary to gather additional insights directly from your audience.

Engage in conversations too and listen to their feedback. Where possible, address their concerns. This is a sure way to help you create more relevant and tailored content as well as strengthens the connection between your brand and your audience.

Advantage, content research…

If you’re a tennis coach for instance and you’re starting out to showcase your kind of story on the internet, what do you think you’ll likely be sharing?

From the top of my mind, the easiest to do would be to see who between Novak Djokovic or Carlos Alcaraz is the flavour of the month and why. Another easy piece would be to assess if your opinion about their on and off court antics are consistent with the fans out there because what a tennis coach thinks and how the general fans hold their idols in their hearts may be miles apart from each other. This may make as an interesting talking point for your audience. If you feel a little more playful, you could also check out how Djokovic and Alcaraz stack up with the controversial Nick Kyrgios.

Now that’s a good catchy title to keep your audience engaged.

Bearing in mind however that while most rookie tennis fans may only be attracted to players for their rankings or their looks, when an authoritative figure like a coach go down the content production path, the general populous will be looking for some added mojos to drive home the message. Mojos in this case can only come from an in-depth analysis and assessment, not some slapstick cheap comedy.

For the record, depth is an important factor because with depth, it shapes character and with character, a voice. In the long run, the regularly produced contents will find its way into the market. This is where the target audience themselves will ascribe a brand DNA for this particular voice. When your content has arrived at this point, it has reached the well deserved “Advantage”-ous position.

Remember, research helps set the stage for an impactful delivery of your content. Without and you’ll risk delivering something flimsy and wouldn’t stand the test of time or scrutiny from your target audience.

Ultimately, research is the second most important step in a content strategy, after editorial planning. There’s really more rewards when you spend time doing this, for the good of your plan and the longevity of your content.

In the next part of this series, we will delve into “Step 3 – Production,” where we will discuss strategies for turning your research into engaging and captivating content that effectively communicates your brand’s message.

Stay tuned for more insights on building a successful content strategy!

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